Reviews for John Jensen Feels Different

Booklist Reviews 2012 March #2
John Jensen's daily routine is much like everyone else's, complete with breakfast, flossing, and a bus ride to the tax office. But John Jensen feels different. He tries to conform, swapping his bow tie for a regular one, then strapping his tail about his middle, but nothing seems to help. After a tied-tail accident, he arrives at the emergency room and meets a doctor with the simple cure: everyone is different. Jensen embraces the many glories of his tail, and all is right with the world. Children will recognize right away that the real difference is that Jensen is a crocodile and his doctor is an elephant (facts never mentioned in the text), and they will empathize with him all the more. With a wry, ironic immediacy, Kove's simple line drawings recall the work of Daniel Pinkwater and Jules Feiffer and offer a silly foil to Hovland's sincere objectivity. A final spread, where John Jensen shows us how to tie a bow tie in seven wordless panels, is the cherry on top. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
John--a crocodile in a human world--hates feeling different, so he tapes his tail to his body to hide it. The story's dare-to-be-different message is muddled by instances of gratuitous cruelty, as when, unaccountably, no one helps first John and later an elderly woman when they fall. The joyless cartoony art seems better suited to an adult comic strip.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 January #2
John Jensen lives a perfectly ordinary, one would even say dull, life. So why does he "feel different"? From the morning, when he munches on extra-fiber super-crunch cereal and brushes his teeth, to "when he's sitting in the tax office working on cases" to his evening commute back home, he feels different. Maybe it's the tail? Children will be all over the disconnect between text and images, because this Caspar Milquetoast of a protagonist is a crocodile living in a world (mostly) otherwise populated by humans. Even funnier than this is the obvious lack of interest everyone around him shows him, despite his intense self-consciousness (the man sitting next to him on the bus is actually sleeping). Nevertheless, John Jensen decides to try hiding his tail under his shirts to avoid notice. But of course, "[w]ith your tail around your middle, you feel clumsy and it's easy to lose your balance," causing him to fall and attracting a lot of attention. The bruised saurian takes himself to the emergency room, where he is treated by… an elephant. A quick pep talk from Dr. Field makes John Jensen realize all the advantages of having a tail, and he celebrates Norway's Constitution Day happily, just one among the throng. Kove's childlike cartoons and their muted palette suit Hovland's daffy fable to a T, matching its deadpan tone with bland innocence. In between giggles, children will find much to think about. (Picture book. 5-9) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 December #2

John Jensen is a well-dressed, well-mannered crocodile living a civilized life in the human world, and he worries about it constantly: "He feels he's different when he takes the bus to work. John Jensen feels the other passengers are looking at him." As Kove makes clear, though, the problem is largely in his head; the other passengers are oblivious to him. When John Jensen trips and falls after binding up his bulky tail in a futile attempt to conceal it, he meets Dr. Field, whose huge ears and long trunk mean he knows a thing or two about being different. Given a new perspective, John Jensen realizes that his tail--and his differentness in general--are all a question of attitude: "Tails are great for tying bows to," he says. "Exactly," says Dr. Field. "Anyone who wears a bow is not afraid of being different." Hovland and Kove successfully negotiate the tricky task of using deadpan humor (like the image of John Jensen in his bathroom swathed in a sarong, brushing his numerous teeth) to teach an earnest moral lesson. Ages 5-9. (Feb.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 March

PreS-Gr 2--Simple storytelling is blended with spare, black-outlined, color-saturated drawings to tell about the emotional resonance of individuality and belonging. The internal monologue of universally felt insecurities is played out by a crocodile, John Jensen, who feels different all the time, sometimes in public among fellow (human) commuters or coworkers, but even when he flosses and brushes and dresses in private. He looks at a family portrait of reptiles indistinguishable from himself, but thinks he must be adopted. He worries and tries to identify his difference. Is it his necktie? His tail? During a visit to the emergency room when a tail-tying remedy causes a fall, Jensen is met by a very large elephant doctor, who calmly explains that no two individuals are exactly the same. "Some are like this, and some are like that," he says. The book's ending has John Jensen still feeling different, "but that is just fine." Because the character's alienation is pervasive, this title speaks to the idea of perception of self on a deeper level than other books on a crowded shelf about self-acceptance. Read it with Amy Kraus Rosenthal's Spoon (Hyperion, 2009) for a well-rounded storytime.--Lisa Egly Lehmuller, St. Patrick's Catholic School, Charlotte, NC

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